Based on its most practiced discipline, Foot Orienteering, we can define the sport as an individual race, in unknown and varied terrain, usually forest or mountain, in a route composed of control points that the orienteer must find in the defined order.
Based on its most practiced discipline, Foot Orienteering, we can define the sportas an individual race, against the clock (each orienteer having a specific start time), in unknown and varied terrain, generally forest or mountain, in a course with control points that the orienteer must find in the defined order using only a map and a compass as auxiliaries.
In the traditional format of an Orienteering course, each orienteer receives a specific Orienteering map (drawn according to the International Specifications of Orienteering maps) at the start, where small circles are marked that correspond to the control points. These are materialized on the ground by flags (orange and white prisms).
The route choice between each control is up to the orienteer himself. Each control is a goal and, at the same time, the beginning of a new challenge. The “game” develops through forests, mountains, urban areas, where the orienteer has to feel an integral part of the space he travels through in order to be successful.
The speed of movement has to be accompanied by the speed of thought and decision-making. It’s necessary to do a good map reading, interpretation of the map/terrain relationship, weighting the various route options and decision-making capacity. In each category, the athlete who completes his route correctly in the shortest time is declared the winner.
A sport for everybody
To allow the race to be open to all, there are always different courses adapted to the physical and technical condition of each participant.
The distances of each course, as well as their level of physical and technical difficulty, varies depending on the athlete’s level. There are classes for all ages, from children to veterans (for example, in the World Masters Championships, there is a class H95 which means “Men aged 95 and over”), divided into men and women.
Sport of nature… but not only
Orienteering can be practiced anywhere as long as there is an orienteering map of that area. Forest, mountain, urban area, any place is suitable for its practice. The terrain should be pleasant and have characteristics that make it accessible to all groups, from those who are new to the sport to those who practice it competitively at the highest level.
Events in city parks or gardens and in urban areas, although reducing the factor of contact with nature, are increasing in number, giving more visibility to the competitions. Orienteering events are, as a general rule, held during the day. However, there are also night races.